Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta: Creamy pasta, shrimp with a kick, crispy air fried sweet peppers.
Looking to change up your week night dinner? Try this peppery, creamy pasta with delicious shrimp.
What you’ll need for this recipe:
- shrimp (if you’re not a seafood person, chicken would work too)
- penne pasta
- Cajun seasoning (more about this later)
- garlic powder
- garlic cloves
- chicken broth
- fat free half and half
- reduced fat cream cheese
- fat free cheddar cheese
- mini sweet peppers (more about these later, too!)
Help! I can’t find Cajun seasoning!
The brand I use is from La Flor, and I use it in my shrimp and cheesy grits recipe too. However, I know some people have trouble finding this seasoning blend. Cajun seasoning is just a blend of salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and oregano. You can make your own by following a recipe like this one.
Cleaning and cooking shrimp
A lot of people are intimidated by shrimp – rest assured, it’s so easy to cook. You can either purchase frozen shrimp from the frozen section of most supermarkets, or you can go to the seafood counter and ask for fresh shrimp. To save yourself some trouble, you can ask for peeled and deveined shrimp. If you are buying frozen, chances are, you will have to peel and devein them yourself.
The shrimp has two veins, one on top and one on the bottom. If you buy cleaned shrimp from the seafood counter, one vein is removed, but one is left in. It is personal preference whether or not you want to remove the second vein. I always do. Just use your paring knife and run it down the vein and it will come right out.
Here is a quick article with photos on how to clean shrimp if you’ve never done it before.
Congratulations! The most time consuming part of this recipe is done!
Now that the shrimp is cleaned, the hard part is over. The rest is so simple! Shrimp take only minutes to cook. The rest of this recipe is easy-peasy.
Let’s get to cooking
Once the shrimp is cleaned, rinse them and pat them dry with a paper towel. Toss the shrimp with the Cajun seasoning and garlic powder, and sear in a pan with olive oil spray. Cook the shrimp for about 5 minutes, or until they are opaque and firm to the touch.
While the shrimp is cooking, boil your pasta. This dish comes together in the time it takes to boil the pasta!
Another fun ingredient I added to this recipe are the sweet baby peppers. I thought they would be a nice touch both texturally, but also for some nice flavor and a pop of color. And let me tell you – they definitely add an element of interest to this recipe.
I use about a cup of them and simply air fry them with olive oil spray and a pinch of salt at 400 for about 5 minutes, or until crispy and browned. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can use your oven for this step – or you can even omit this ingredient altogether. It’s not crucial.
After the shrimp is cooked, add the minced garlic to the pan with some more olive oil spray, and cook for one minute or until fragrant. Next, add the chicken stock, and cook for a few minutes until some of the liquid is absorbed. Next, you’ll add the half and half and cream cheese, followed by the scallions and the cooked baby peppers. Add in the cooked pasta and simmer it altogether for a few minutes until the flavors meld.
That’s it! Garnish with extra scallions if desired, and enjoy!
Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- air fryer
- pasta pot
- frying pan
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined
- 1.5 tbsp cajun seasoning
- .5 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup fat free half and half
- 2 tbsp reduced fat cream cheese
- 1/4 cup fat free cheddar cheese
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 1 cup sweet mini peppers
- 8 oz penne pasta, measured dry
- Make sure your shrimp are peeled, deveined and cleaned. Pat them dry.
- Toss the shrimp in the Cajun seasoning and garlic powder. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare your pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta until al dente, about 8-10 minutes.
- Air fry the baby peppers at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. (Same time and temperature is used for the oven, or this step can be omitted).
- In a large frying pan over medium high heat, add olive oil spray and cook the shrimp on both sides for about 5 minutes, or until opaque and firm to the touch.
- Add more olive oil spray and the minced garlic.
- Cook the garlic for 1 minute or just until fragrant.
- Add the chicken broth, and using a wooden spoon, scrape any burnt bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Let the sauce simmer for 2-3 minutes until it reduces.
- Stir in the half and half, cream cheese, and cheddar, and whisk to combine.
- Let the sauce simmer on low until the pasta is done cooking.
- Add the cooked, drained pasta to the frying pan with the sauce, stir to coat the pasta.
- Cook for an additional 2 minutes or so until the sauce sticks to the pasta.
- Stir in the chopped scallions and air fried baby peppers.